A three-day forum aimed at promoting the equal, full and meaningful representation of women in cybersecurity for a more resilient cyberspace has opened in Accra, Ghana.
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister, Communications and Digitalisation, at the opening ceremony of the forum in Accra, noted that cybersecurity is absolutely critical in digitalization and there is the need to focus on cybersecurity as critical component of the applications and services being put in place in the country’s forging digital economy and across the globe.
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful indicated that with the current gender digital divide, there is the urgent need to deliberately encourage more women to engage within the cybersecurity space with its critical skills shortage.
“Digital technology is made for women. It is incumbent on us to embrace the opportunities it affords us to work remotely, safely, multitask and to use our natural in-born skills of negotiation to impact the sector,” she emphasised.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful noted that it requires cyber capacity building critical to change the narrative and to help the cyber defense and resilience of the various countries. She averred that a quarter of the roles in cybersecurity globally are filled by women, and it behooved on women in the sector to encourage others to make up that shortfall while leveraging on the several opportunities it presented.
“It is incumbent on us to nurture women in cybersecurity. For me, I have taken it as a personal challenge to encourage more women to be digitally enabled to acquire the necessary skills…I stand ready to work with you to widen the space for greater inclusion for women in this sector.”Mrs Owusu-Ekuful
Major General Richard Addo Gyane, the Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), on her part, noted that the project aligned with the Centre’s commitment to inspiring African women leaders in peace and security and coincided with the National Cyber Security Month in October.
This synergy, he said, provided the centre with a unique opportunity to reinforce its dedication to Women, Peace, and Security while advancing its cybersecurity efforts. “Certain cyber threats, such as online harassment and stalking, disproportionately affect women,” he said, explaining that having women in cybersecurity positions could lead to a better understanding of effective responses to those gender-specific threats.
Hence, “promoting women in cybersecurity contributes to the broader goals of gender equality and inclusivity in the tech industry. It helps break down barriers and promote equal opportunities for all,” the Commandant said.
Opportunity to Engage In Multilateral Negotiations And A UN-Level Simulation
Richard Addo Gyane expressed optimism that the platform would offer participants in the sub-region the opportunity to engage in multilateral negotiations and a UN-level simulation of international cyber diplomacy which would empower, educate, and elevate the voices of all including women in the cybersecurity realm.
Maj Gen Gyane stressed that the inclusion of women’s voices and perspectives is not only a matter of equality but also a matter of security, requiring the inclusion of diverse teams to ensure resilience, creativity, and effectiveness in addressing the complex challenges of the digital age.
To fully realize the importance of women in cybersecurity, he said, it was essential to create an inclusive and supportive environment that encouraged women to pursue careers in the field, which would provide opportunities for their growth and advancement.
Under the Her CyberTracks Project, the forum will promote the representation and participation of women, seeking to improve their contribution to national and international cybersecurity policy processes.
The initiative builds on the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) ongoing efforts to bridge the gender digital divide and integrates the established Women in Cyber Mentorship Programme.
The Her CyberTracks Project is a three-month and three-part initiative incorporating online and on-site technical trainings in cybersecurity policy and diplomacy, soft skills trainings, guided monthly mentorship circles, inspirational keynotes, as well as regional networking events.
The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and co-implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and ITU-D.
With around 40 participants from ECOWAS countries, the forum, being hosted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), will offer cyber capacity building especially for women to amend the inequalities they encounter in cybersecurity and ensure their contribution to a secure and resilient cyberspace.